Israel quietly watches chaos unfolding around it
Israel has been closely watching the unrest roiling its Arab neighbors while keeping a low profile, with top government officials responding cautiously to what one described as "an earthquake" in the region.
The anti-government protests in Egypt, Israel's largest Arab neighbor and the first to sign a peace treaty with it, are being watched with particular interest here, and so far the prevailing official assessment is that President Hosni Mubarak will weather the storm.
To Israel's north, Lebanon is also in midst of political turmoil, with the appointment of a new prime minister backed by the Islamist movement Hezbollah. Israeli officials say they are concerned but do not expect the latest changes to trigger violence across the Israeli-Lebanese frontier.
Israeli minister: Hezbollah agents entering Gaza
Israel's minister of strategic affairs said Thursday the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla group has infiltrated agents into the Gaza Strip to train Palestinian militants.
Gaza is ruled by the Hamas militant group, which, like Hezbollah, is sworn to Israel's destruction.
And below we see the one of the biggest problems:
The minister, Moshe Yaalon, Israel's former military chief of staff, told reporters that "Hezbollah experts can get into the Gaza Strip, like the Iranian rockets are coming to the Gaza Strip." He said Hezbollah militants can go from Lebanon to Sudan, then to Egypt and on to Gaza.
Israel charges that archenemy Iran sends rockets and other weapons to Gaza militants, smuggling them into the seaside strip through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.
"We're living on a volcano," experts warn
As with Iran in ’79, Islamists could hijack pro-democracy movements; ex-IDF research chief: “We're on thick ice, but even that melts eventually."
Israeli security experts are casting an uneasy eye at the civil unrest spreading through the region.
On Thursday, Yemen joined the list of Arab states experiencing unprecedented demonstrations calling for authoritarian leaders to step down, and Egypt braced for more civil unrest.
While no analysts here predict any immediate ramifications for Israel’s national security, some said mass protest movements that begin as pro-democracy uprisings could easily be hijacked by Islamists.
“We need to understand that we are living on a volcano,” said Maj.- Gen. (res.) Ya’acov Amidror, former head of the IDF’s Research and Assessment Directorate.
“Conditions can change from today until tomorrow. We must ask ourselves, what is the worst case scenario,” he said. “We are on thick ice, but even that melts eventually."
We can’t forget that in Iran, at the end of the 1970s, the uprising against the shah was led by [pro-democracy] youths who took the streets – but this was taken over by Islamists in the end.”
It is hard to imagine that these spreading "uprisings" throughout the region will not have prophetic implications. The hour is too late and the implications are too significant for these uprisings to not somehow fit into the prophetic developments. We are now just seeing the beginnings of these uprisings and they will most assuredly take some unpredictable twists and turns.
Meanwhile, we continue to watch these events closely.